Duveen, Joseph Joel (DNB12)

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DUVEEN, Sir JOSEPH JOEL (1843–1908), art dealer and benefactor, born at Meppel in Holland on 8 May 1843, was elder son in a family of two sons and two daughters of Joseph Duveen of that place by his wife Eva, daughter of Henry van Minden of Zwolle. His grandfather, Henry Duveen, who had first settled at Meppel during the Napoleonic wars, was youngest son of Joseph Duveen of Giessen, army contractor to the King of Saxony ; Napoleon's repudiation of the debts of the Saxon forces ruined this Duveen, whose twelve sons were then driven to seek their fortunes in different countries.

Joseph left Meppel in 1866 and settled at Hull, starting as a general dealer on a site now partly covered by the Public Art Gallery built in 1910. He possessed a good knowledge of Nankin procelain, then coming into fashion, and of which cargo loads had been brought to Holland by the early Dutch traders with China; he purchased large quantities of this in various parts of his native country, shipped it to Hull, and found a ready market for it in London. In partnership with his younger brother Henry he soon secured the chief American trade in Oriental porcelain, and in 1877 opened a branch house at Fifth Avenue, New York. They formed many fine collections in America, among others that of Garland, which they bought back en bloc in March 1902, selling it at once to Mr. Pierpont Morgan. They also largely helped in the formation of the Taft, Widener, Gould, Altmann and Morgan art collections.

In 1879 the brothers erected fine art galleries adjoining the Pantheon in Oxford Street, London, and at once took an important share in the fine art trade, extending their interests in nearly every branch, particularly in that of old tapestry, of which they became the largest purchasers. When Robinson & Fisher vacated their auction rooms at 21 Old Bond Street the Duveens secured the additional premises and built spacious art galleries in the spring of 1894. From 1890 onwards they purchased pictures and were large buyers at the Mulgrave Castle sale of 1890 and at the Murrieta sale two years later. They purchased the whole of the Hainauer collection of renaissance objects of art for about 250,000l. in June 1906, and in 1907 the Rodolphe Kann collection of pictures and objects of art and vertu in Paris, for nearly three quarters of a million sterling (The Times, 7 Aug. 1907 ; The Year's Art, 1908, 367-72).

Duveen, whose fortune grew large, was generous in public benefaction. He was a subscriber to the public purchase of the 'Venus' of Velasquez for the National Gallery in 1906, in which year also he presented J. S. Sargent's whole-length portrait of Miss Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth (bought in at the Irving sale at Christie's, 16 Dec. 1905, for 1200Z.) to the National (Tate) Gallery of British Art, Millbank. In May 1908 he undertook the cost (about 35,000l.) of an addition of five rooms, known as 'The Turner Wing,' to that gallery (The Times, 7 May 1908 ; Cat. of Nat. Gall, of Brit. Art, 1911, pp. vi-vii). He was knighted on 26 June 1908.

He died at Hyeres, France, on 9 Nov. 1908, and was buried at the Jewish cemetery, Willesden. He left a fortune tentatively valued at 540,409l. , with personalty of the net value of 486,675l. (The Times, 7 Dec. 1908; Morning Post, with fuller details, of same date). In 1869 he married Rosetta, daughter of Abraham Barnett of Carr Lane, Hull, who survived him, and by whom he had a family of ten sons and four daughters.

His portrait by Emil Fuchs, M.V.O., is in the Turner wing of the gallery at Millbank. His eldest son, Joseph, who made additions to his father's benefaction to the Tate Gallery, presented to the new Public Art Gallery of Hull, as a memorial of his father's association with the town of Hull, 'The Good Samaritan,' by Edward Stott, A.R. A.

[Private information from the family and Mr. A. C. R. Carter ; The Year's Art, 1908, (with portrait).]

W. R.